However, the storms that disrupt a single expedition can have long-lasting, even damaging effects. In other words, heartbreak or breakups from one relationship can create raw vulnerability, destroyed self-esteem, fear and loneliness. Emotional recovery and repair becomes an uphill climb, similar to the theory of self-actualization by Abraham Maslow.
Theory of Self-Actualization: The Pursuit of Happiness
Self-actualization was developed as a “hierarchy of needs” that greatly influenced humanistic psychology and the positive psychology movement. The standard progression of needs begins with basic physiological needs (e.g. food, sleep, air) and then ascends with need-levels of safety, belonging and love, and self-esteem. At the top of the pyramid is the peak of self-actualization where your potential is fully realized and needs are fulfilled. Self-actualization is the journey of becoming who you intrinsically are and everything you’re capable of becoming.
Climbing to the Peak of Your Best Self
A breakup or separation can leave you feeling empty and depleted. The emotional void can feel as if you’re left without basic needs like food and water. Heartbreak strips you down to survival mode, evening making it hard to breathe.
Support your emotional restoration with a self-actualization approach. The mountain to climb is a journey to rebuild the person who you are. The peak is self-love and acceptance, confidence and emotional health. The peak isn’t necessarily a new relationship; it’s a place where you’re content and fulfilled with who you are and your life. Here, you’re ready and open to new love as a renewed self.
The following four tips can help you achieve self-actualization for the next chapter in your ultimate quest for love.
Open Space for Creativity
Even more tragic than heartbreak is the potential for untapped greatness and buried creativity. Grief can actually lead to enlightenment by opening your mind and tapping into your creative intelligence. Heartbreak inspires brilliant love ballads, poetry and artwork. Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence + the Machine, believes, “when you’re heartbroken, you’re at your most creative. You have to channel all your energies into something else to not think about it. Contentment is a creativity killer.”
Living in the present moment can help alleviate a fixation on the past or a new relationship. Break the monotony of your daily routine and be mindful of the present moment with spontaneity. Spontaneity frees your mind, energizes awareness and helps fade your fears. Empower yourself with a spontaneous adventure outdoors or visiting a long-distance friend. Say yes more, seize new opportunities and take risks. For example, spontaneously moving to a new city and meeting new people can be an exciting experience of self-growth, releasing you from your comfort zone.
Learn to Love Your Independence
Self-actualized people value their independence and privacy, which enables them to focus on their personal development. If living alone feels lonely, perceive it as an opportunity to grow your independence, free from distractions and judgement from others. Focus on creative expression or meditate as healing. Embrace solitude as a way to get in tune with yourself and be truly who you are on a deeper level.
You might opt to take a road trip alone. This act is meditative and a refreshing way to clear your mind. Whether it’s down the coast or across the country, make sure you set out with a tuned-up car and a safe set of tires. This way, you’ll spend more time deep in introspection and less time dealing with flats or leaks.
Descend from Your Climb
Joe Desena, founder and CEO of Spartan Race Inc. and Entrepreneur contributor, emphasizes the importance of occasionally descending from the journey to the top. Desena encourages the idea to give up essentials in a way that trades comfort for perspective. Volunteer to help the underprivileged. Train to run a marathon. Travel to a foreign country. Gaining new and diverse perspectives also helps you break from enculturation — learn to live life on your own terms and not what’s culturally indoctrinated by society. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination (if not more).